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The Exile Waiting by Vonda N. McIntyre

The Exile Waiting (original 1975; edition 1975)

by Vonda N. McIntyre

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383544,706 (3.22)15
River Glen was at the edge of nowherea tiny, sleepy town nestled on the shores of the Potomac. It was perfect for Dana Brantley, who, after a rocky couple of years, was looking for a peaceful place to start over.But the townspeople had other ideas for the new librarian. They thought she was perfect for their most eligible bachelor, Nick Verone. So did Nick's ten-year-old son, Tony. And so did Nick, himself. He was intrigued by the mysterious Dana, and determined to find a way through her reserve. But what he discovers is a wounded and fragile soul. It will take more than his usual charm to convince her that in River Glenand with himshe has found the edge of forever.Look for more captivating titles from New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods, including Sand Castle Bay, the first title in her Ocean Breeze series "… (more)
Title:The Exile Waiting
Authors:Vonda N. McIntyre
Info:Nelson Doubleday (1975), Edition: Book Club (BCE/BOMC), Hardcover
Collections:Your library

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The Exile Waiting by Vonda N. McIntyre (1975)



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In a recent exchange on Twitter with a friend, he wondered why McIntyre, a feminist sf writer and multi-award winner, was not as well known as Joanna Russ. McIntyre wrote a number of Star Trek tie-in novels, and so may have become associated with that rather than straight-up sf… Although a look at her bibliography on isfdb.org shows she wrote only 5 Trek novels (including novelizations of films II, III and IV), one SWEU novel, and, er, ten genre novels that aren’t tie-ins. The first of which was The Exile Waiting in 1975, although the version I read is the revised 1985 edition. It’s one of those sf novels which posits a world which includes slavery and children deliberately mutilated to make them more effective beggars. I really don’t understand why sf writers feels a need to populate their novels with either of these. True, these last twenty years we’ve seen technological progress increase inequality – please please please, someone make like Max Zorin and flood Silicon Valley – when you’d imagine technology would make things better for everyone equally. As someone once said – was it Bruce Sterling? – the market finds its own use for things; except it would be perhaps more accurate to say that Silicon Valley finds its own way to develop revenue streams from things that were otherwise free. (Multi-passenger Uber! Er, that’s a bus, you’ve just invented a bus. And so on.) But The Exile Waiting is 42 years old, revised 32 years ago, and what is about American sf that all roads lead to libertarian variations on the Great Depression? Mutilating kids? Seriously? Slavery? Really? It doesn’t matter that the protagonist of this novel is female and has agency, because the world in which she lives embodies the worst of US sf. At one point, she’s whipped because she sneaked her way into the palace, was caught and accused of stealing, and given no opportunity to explain herself. Anyway, a more extensive review of this should appear at some point on SF Mistressworks. I don’t think The Exile Waiting was typical of its time – in some respects, it’s an improvement on mid-seventies American sf – but in some areas it demonstrates remarkably little commentary on the tropes it uses, even in the revised edition, and even its above average prose can’t really save it. ( )
  iansales | Aug 17, 2018 |
I love how Vonda McIntyre writes. 'Dreamsnake' was one of my favorite books as a young teenager, but my local library didn't have all of her books, so I still have some to read!

I really liked 'The Exile Waiting,' but at the same time, I think I would have liked it even more if I had read it back in the early '80s.

It's got tons of cool stuff in it:

A wealthy, half-Japanese heir from a luxury planet, escaping a troubled relationship with his father, hitches a ride with a pair of experimentally-identical mercenaries and their band, aboard their starship, in order to accommodate the dying wish of his blind, poet lover to see Earth and be buried there.
Meanwhile, the young telepath Mischa, living in the dying, post-apocalyptic cavern cities of Earth, seeks a way off-planet for herself and her drug-addicted but artistically talented brother. Unfortunately, she's subject to the blackmail of her evil, Fagin-esque uncle, who forces her to steal for him using the mental abilities of her disabled sister...

Got all that? There's more!
And that's actually a weakness of the book. There are so many disparate and unusual characters, from different (and alien) backgrounds, that there isn't room in the not-very-long novel to properly explore them all. Many of their motivations remain opaque; their characters not fully explained. Not all of the actions seem logical, and the "science" is seriously questionable. (As far as that, I just chuck science out the window and call it science-fantasy. I LIKE post-apocalyptic mutants; who cares if that's not what radiation really does?!) And the latter portion of the book abruptly turns into an extended chase scene, which I felt was a bit unbelievable and unnecessary.

I love the imagery: caves full of gorgeous, crystal toxic-waste stalactites, elegant slave-women, bizarre troglodytes, stark space-age corridors, caverns full of skeletons, glowing with luminous fungus...

I like the repeated theme of different types of slavery, and the different ways in which one can become free.

Flaws and all, I'd still highly recommend the book. ( )
1 vote AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Odd in the way that only older SF can be. It starts with two disparate story lines that fairly quickly merge as the characters meet.

The setting is fairly traditional, an expanding Sphere of humanity has explored out and abandoned Earth at it's centre, changing and mutating in a variety of physical and cultural manners unconstrained by energy or matter requirements.

The lesser voice is an itinerant traveller who meets a ancient blind navigator who's last wish is to return to Earth. Having no better life goals at the moment, he finds passage with a set of raiders led by a bizarre pair of cloned twins who share a fading mental connection as their life experience diverges. Meanwhile there is still life on Earth. Shattered and desolate ruined by centuries of nuclear war a city of sorts still exists ruled by a Lord, by consent of the main Families who all live sheltered lives by the grace of the raiders visits. However there is, as always a lower class, and among those a set of thieves. Our main character is one of those, and we slowly learn more about her family, and desires. One of which is to leave Earth and break the bonds that tie her both mentally and almost physically to her extended family. The out-season arrival of the latest ship provides and opportunity that she's not going to turn down.

Features a bit of a bizarre cave section - on a world so old it makes little sense to ask if it was intended to have been natural caves but it still doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. The rest is rather slow but involving fun that slowly makes sense and creates an increasing amount of tension that is well resolved. ( )
  reading_fox | Oct 30, 2015 |
Light-tubes spread across the ceiling like the gills of a mushroom. The instantaneous impression was one of chaos, of tiny gray projections climbing each other to reach the ceiling, spotted here and there with color or movement. Mischa knew the city well enough to see the underlying order: five parallel spiral ramps leading up the walls at a low pitch, giving access to the stacked dwellings. The helices were almost obliterated by years of building-over, use, and neglect. The walls of the cavern, crowded with single-unit box-houses piled against the stone, looked like shattered honeycombs. To Mischa's left, and below her, Stone Palace was an empty blotch of bare gray rock on the mural of disorder. Its two entrances were closed to the rest of the city; before it, the Circle, the wide sandy way that led around the perimeter of the cave, was almost deserted.

It's unlike me to wish that books were longer, as I normally like the older shorter sf books like this one, but in this case I could have done with more information about how Center actually worked. Blaisse tells SubOne and SubTwo that he only rules Center in alliance with the Families, but we never find out the any of the Families think about the agreement he makes with the aliens, and it was never explained exactly why SubOne killed Mischa's brother Chris, although this is because the point of view characters don't know these things. I would also like to have see more about Mischa's relationship with her Uncle and any other family members.

All in all, it just doesn't hang together as well as Dreamsnake. ( )
  isabelx | Jun 30, 2015 |
I enjoyed this one a lot, even though I feel I missed something - at least I felt as if there were some things I ought to have picked up and understood about some of the characters which I didnt - but I think it is mostly because it is a short book and a lot of things are hinted at for depth which are never elaborated.
This is a dystopian novel of people against the system, of an old decadent system, a young girl trying to get out of it, and a bunch of piratical misfits arriving in the middle - how they all clash, and what happens.

I cared, I bought into the story and setting, and I read it almost in one go. The books is also very short and I was amazed by the end at the amount of world building, story and characterisation in such a small book - and I would love to get some more about these same characters. ( )
1 vote iphigenie | May 20, 2008 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Vonda N. McIntyreprimary authorall editionscalculated
Embden, MichaelCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jezierski, ChetCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McCormack, UnaAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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set open,
set free,
the exile waiting in long anger, outside my home -- Urusula K. LeGuin
For Ursula and Charles
with fond memories of their
Charitable Home for Writers.
First words
Jan Hikaru's Journal: Contacts in a spaceport bazaar are tenuous and quickly broken.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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